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Thankful. Breathe in, breathe out. Thankful.

Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just about here. Days are darker, longer, winter is setting in. We're approaching the close of 2010. And what a year it's been for many...we have witnessed some of the most stressful times in our history, yes? Hard times often cause us to reflect, to try to make sense of what the lessons are in our struggles. We can rail against what is, or we can find a way to live with what is - and find new ways of understanding and coping. Many have realized it's time to develop new skills, new ways of working, new ways of seeing who we are and what we have to offer.

I've been very fortunate to witness the human spirit at its finest, through the work that I do with my clients. People who came to me worried and stuck found new ways of understanding themselves, and have pulled out their personal brand of magic to make a new story for themselves. I've seen friends rise above their worry to find ways to be radiant in their gifts, and to keep offering what they do best in a variety of ways. We just can't give up. Those who are working haven't been spared this time of reflection. Everyone feels the teeter-totterness of life right now, and we all seem just a little bit more fragile than in years gone by (except maybe for 2009).

I find myself meditating more than ever these days. I find that the quiet and openness of meditation is a relief. A relief from the ticking of technology, traffic and talk - my own inner dialogue, the chatter we all hear about politics, and the state of affairs around us. Meditation is like fresh air blowing through an open window with billowing curtains. It clears out the old and musty, most of the time. If you haven't taken time to sit down and meditate, I highly recommend it.

You’ll find below, a list of resources to help you find local places where you can learn to meditate, or to meet with a group of others who meditate. I have also included a list of books that can feed your brain, body and soul. You know I am here to help with the world of work, but who are we with a barren heart and soul? No one. We are hungry for connection to ourselves, others, and to our work. Quiet can bring our creativity back to us so that we can see things in a brand new light. Suddenly the magic is back - a wave of excitement and possibility comes crashing in and we can ride it to the next new idea, and the next new conversation that opens a new possibility for us.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am off to a nine-day silent meditation retreat in Northern California. I'm looking forward to being there and then coming back with fresh perspective and even more to give. For now though, I give thanks to all of you who have given me your trust, who have given my Tweets a thumbs up, or have attended a group or function that we've held. I'm grateful to be able to give the gift that I have for hearing my clients, and mirroring back what they have to bring to the world.

To help those of you who are in the midst of a career change or transition, as we approach the holidays and the plethora of social encounters that inevitably ensue, here are some ideas to consider to help you to prepare yourself for socializing during the holidays:

1. Pamper yourself prior to heading out to any sort of function or social gathering. Treating yourself well and making yourself feel good about your situation, will help you to communicate more authentically about what’s going on in your life.

2. Make a list of things that you’re grateful for. Keep those things in mind as you speak with others.

3. Now’s a great time to volunteer. The holiday season is rife with volunteer opportunities, and studies show that people who volunteer are happier, in general. And volunteering to do something that makes you feel good about yourself, also gives you something to discuss when asked what you’ve been up to, as of late.

4. Be sure to get outside, once in a while. A great way to get out and be physical is to join a U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) program; the people in USMS programs tend to be very motivated, and attending the practice sessions can be a great way to network.

5. Toastmasters and other organizations almost always throw holiday parties. Attend one of these gatherings, which tend to be much more social in nature than their meetings and events during the rest of the year. Holiday parties are excellent for networking in a very productive and proactive way.

6. On that same note, research professional associations that have local meetings at this time of year. An example would be your local Chamber of Commerce meetings – they’re always looking for new members, but you don’t necessarily have to be a member to attend one of their events.

And stay tuned for more announcements as we move towards the New Year. We will have new programs, groups and panels coming up, beginning with our next Job Search Support and Likeminding Group, which will start on Wednesday, January 12, 2011. Wow. 2011 marks my 8th year of being in business (and 20th year as a career counselor. Oh my!).

Some suggested reads:

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun”, by Gretchen Rubin

Trusting Yourself: How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed and Live More Happily with Less Effort”, by M.J. Ryan

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life”, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness”, by Susan L. Smalley PhD and Diana Winston

AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn't Ask For”, by M.J. Ryan

Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness”, by James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander

The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Shambhala Library)”, by Pema Chodron

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life”, by Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell

The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything”, by Stephen M.R. Covey

And meditation resources:
Shambhala Meditation Center of Los Angeles

You can also find a wealth of resources on my site, from other suggested reads, links to helpful sites, a Q&A with me, newsletter archives, and more. And for those of you who are in the process of updating your résumé, you can sign up to receive a FREE résumé template from Daisy Swan & Associates; the signup box is located right on our home page. And please feel free to tell your friends and colleagues about our FREE résumé template.

Happy Holidays,

daisy swan